The above-titled presentation was given as a plenary presentation at the Annual Symposium of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) on April 18, 2012. Herein is a slightly modified version of the Power Point used at the presentation. We corrected some typos and made some editorial adjustments, but this is 99% the same as what was used at the presentation. Unfortunately the event itself was not taped.
It is important to note that the original context for this presentation is Intercountry Adoption to the United States. However, some of you may find some of these points relevant to domestic adoption issues as well as Intercountry Adoption to other nations (Canada, Italy, Spain, etc.)
Especially at the event itself, with our own commentary added, this was a presentation not just on abusive adoption practices, but especially on how the intercountry adoption system, as shaped by the United States government and United States adoption agencies, is “designed for failure.” Abusive adoption practices thus are not merely problems in themselves, but are symptoms of a system that chronically produces abuses and breakdowns in the system: a system that fails to self-correct and thus is self-defeating.
Further, these features of the current dysfunctional system were not necessarily inevitable, but have arisen from specific choices made during the construction of the system by the U.S. government and U.S. agencies. The governing rules they advocated for, and chose, created the dysfunctions that have doomed the system to continuing cycles of abuse.
This is very much a presentation about the inestimable human costs of those failures for all those impacted by adoption: not only adoption triad members, but also siblings, extended families, communities, and even nations. It is also a presentation about a system that fails to assist or recognize its own victims.
The presentation is very much of a joint project: David and Desiree each wrote about half of the material, and each critiqued the other’s materials. The process of converting material into PowerPoint format was done initially by Desiree, although again the final product was reviewed, modified, and critiqued by both of us. Overall, the concepts and information presented represent years of working together to analyze adoption systems.
We certainly do not expect everyone to be happy with these materials and critiques may come from all sides. Please keep in mind that the PowerPoint cannot embody all that we said; also please keep in mind the original audience and occasion for the presentation. We welcome vigorous and respectful dialogue, from which we hope to learn, as so much of what we do know to this point in time is due to the many people who have shared their experiences and thoughts with us.
For discussion and further commentary, please go to the blog: http://fleasbiting.blogspot.com/
David and Desiree Smolin
- Intercountry Adoption,
- Abusive Practices,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_smolin/12/